Agents of Change Finding the right Realtor can make all the difference when buying a home.

By Justin Silberman



House in hands

Buying a home is a major financial decision for most of us, and an alien process as well—thank goodness, careful planning packs a lasting and life-changing payoff.

It’s so helpful to understand the steps in the buying process at the outset and also to anticipate some level of uncertainty. Many of the crucial (and more complex) stages of the homebuying transaction—like official inspections and title work—can take some time to complete and absolutely require the support and advice of a seasoned real estate agent.

Licensed professionals like Kate Barnhart of Keller Williams Gateway lend their services to prospective homebuyers and sellers—and make life a whole lot easier.

“With all my clients, I always strive to go above and beyond and provide them with whatever knowledge and information I can,” says Barnhart, 40, who has been selling real estate for a decade. “You have to drop some personality on those you’re working with, which I think is one of the most important things I do in my job.”

In many ways, the job of an agent requires an assortment of PR and data-driven skills—and lots of hard work—with no guarantee of any financial reward.

Fortunately for some of these up-and-coming professionals in the greater Baltimore area, the industry is experiencing nice growth.

In 2015, 35,960 units were sold in the Baltimore area, marking an 18.8 percent increase from 2014, according to the RealEstate Business Intelligence group.

Jason Perlow, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty, is one agent who continues to reap the benefits of the recent uptick.

Perlow, who grew up in Owings Mills and graduated from Boys’ Latin and the University of Delaware, brings a youthful energy when pitching clients. Something Perlow preaches to himself and new agents is patience—understanding the importance of building a network of friends, family and colleagues to establish a solid footing in the business.

So far, that approach has proven winning. The 29-year-old sold more than 50 homes last year alone—he has sold around 250 homes total in six years.

“When I go on an appointment, I really try to gain a rapport with the people I’m working with,” Perlow says. “I want to get my clients to the closing table, but more importantly, I care about their well-being and want them to be happy and have the most pleasant experience at the end of the deal.”

Different buyers, meanwhile, seek different amenities depending on their interests and lifestyle choices. Many homebuyers with young children look to live in family-friendly neighborhoods, where kids can develop friendships, play outdoors safely and enjoy community activities. Others, however, choose areas with a vibrant nightlife featuring restaurants, clubs and shops.

No matter a person’s desires, Michael Frank, a member of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty, works diligently with his clients to meet their diverse needs.

Since becoming an agent three years ago, Frank, a 30-year-old Reisterstown native, says he has closed more than 64 deals and that his business has doubled each year.

While he is still a relative newcomer, Frank understands the importance of goal-setting to meet the demands of his growing clientele.

“The one thing I want to provide is a higher level of service for all my consumers,” Frank says. “Communication is key, because [agents] are both buyers and sellers. Providing that level of service I’m used to, in my opinion, gives people the comfort of understanding they’re being represented rather than being treated as a transaction.”

Once a transaction reaches its final stages, Richard Beck, owner and inspector of Beck Inspects, comes in to lend his expertise. During the inspection process, a licensed Maryland inspector such as Beck will evaluate the home, ensuring it complies with standards established by state law—from working windows to functional electricity and plumbing.

It’s a natural fit for Beck, 36, a Glen Burnie High School graduate and Baltimore County resident who started performing home and condominium inspections five years ago after working in construction.

“I wanted to do something that wasn’t as physically demanding as construction, but that was just as rewarding,” Beck says. “With the work I do now, I’m able to help clients make sure everything is up to code for a new home, which, of course, is absolutely critical.”

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